The ShopWildThings Story...
Our brand story is our family’s story, and also a love story of sorts. ShopWildThings began as a retail store with a jungle theme in the London Bridge area of Lake Havasu, Arizona in 1989. With Kathi at the helm and an array of family members helping out, we experienced the normal ~ and a few not-so-normal ~ ups and downs common to small businesses as we served locals and vacationers from our many highly themed and energetic brick and mortar stores: Wild Things (we were the original Jungle Themed Store!), London Bridge Kites & Toys, London Bridge Candy Emporium (we made Fresh Fudge!), and London Bridge 1 Hour Photo where we developed film and took aerial photography.
Here is a photo from the 90's of one of our original Wild Things retail stores...
Like many small businesses in the 1990s, we experienced some extreme ups and downs. When tourism in our area slowed to a trickle, our brick-and-mortar store struggled, and we found ourselves using savings to pay employees and looking for creative ways to make ends meet.
And like so many small business owners, we kept hearing a soft voice telling us to reimagine our retail business in ways that would let us do more of what we loved:
- finding unique, great quality product
- going above and beyond for our customers
- being great corporate citizens in our home community
- offering meaningful work and fair wages for our employees
- spending time with our families
The Internet offered unique opportunities “way back” in the 1990s, and we opened an online shopping option for some of the products in our retail stores. It was glamorous from the very beginning. Katie had big hair, her very own computer, and half a counter in the back of our ShopWildThings retail store. She photographed some of our favorite products, put their pictures on Al Gore’s Internet, and we became an “online retailer” when landlines were standard and your modem screeched at you to let you know how hard it was working.
From this humble beginning, and with a lot of experimentation, we found that we could serve customers around the country, and even around the world, as an online business. It wasn’t long before our online sales were outpacing our retail sales, and we decided to make the leap from brick-and-mortar retail store to online business. We need to take a minute to say that we are still very much a physical business located in Lake Havasu, Arizona, and shipping around the world. We have real, live employees, many of whom have been with us for 20 years or more, and a huge warehouse/office combination that lets us stock nearly all of the products that you see on our website. We are not just a middleman marking up stuff we haven’t seen and drop shipping it to you.
One of the values that Kathi brought to ShopWildThings from its earliest days was doing the right thing, whether that was easy or difficult. Being nice is easy, and we pride ourselves on having the best customer service in the industry.
We are proud of our relationships with some of the biggest names in Hollywood and in the event design industry. It is pretty cool to turn on “Dancing With The Stars” and see our bead curtains. It is, um, kind of awesome to know that Colin Cowie chooses our décor pieces year after year, and that hundreds of regionally and nationally respected design leaders choose us when they need great quality products at fair prices. You'll see us in just about every film, awards ceremony or television show that you watch where there is sparkle and glam these days! Additionally, we serve the biggest and best Wedding and Event Planners but give the same TLC to our Home Decorators and DIY Brides.
At our core, we are a small family business that strives to be nice and to do the right thing. We don’t ever forget that you have choices when you purchase products online. And we absolutely understand how important every dollar is in a small business, because while our business has succeeded beyond what we could have dreamed in 1989, we also remember what it was like to struggle to pay our bills. We started out packing boxes in the back of one of our shops to being fully housed inside our very own (almost) 50,000 square foot facility complete with a fabrication department.
Thank you for taking a few minutes to listen to our story ~ the ShopWildThings story, and our family’s story. We appreciate your shopping with us, and we look forward to using our years of hands-on retail experience to find products that hit the sweet spot of having top quality, lasting style, and great value while employing the best customer service, warehousing, and packing department folks in the event industry. We can't wait to work with you.